Editorial Dept.'s picture

Below Decks – Heavy Seas Beer – 96 Rating

Heavy Seas Christopher Leonard
Heavy Seas Christopher Leonard

BC: Who came up with this beer’s recipe?
Below Decks was a fairly well received Barleywine we made a few years back.  We aged a portion of it in Cabernet wine barrels, which turned out great.  So, when we were given an opportunity to purchase a large amount of red wine barrels as part of another project, we jumped at it.  The original Below Decks was brewed with American hops.  For this version, I reformulated the beer as an all English ingredient version (Marris Otter malt, Fuggle and Kent Goldings hops).

BC: What’s your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, etc.)?
The red wine barrel treatment really pops in the nose.  It provides an interesting contrast to the toffee-like sweetness, as if someone took a fortified wine and gave it a dry wine aroma.

BC: Where does this beer’s name come from?
It's a name we've used in the past whose origins are unknown to me. 

BC: Is this your “desert island beer?”
Definitely not.  The heft of this beer along with its 12.2% ABV would prevent that.  But, it would certainly be at top of my list of beers to finish off a multi-course meal.

BC: Can you describe this beer in 10 words or less?
Chewy, malty, vinous, oaky, rich, satisfying, indulgent yet comforting.

BC: Do you know a story – or have a personal story – that revolves around this beer?
The varietals in the red barrels is a bit of a mystery.  We were told they were a random mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Syrah -filled barrels.  So, the beer is a true blend.  Also, this is the longest we'd ever aged a beer in wine barrels, so we weren't entirely sure how it would turn out.  The beer went into barrels at 10.4% ABV, but came out at over 12%!  So, we didn't quite know what to expect.  Fortunately, the wood treatment provided a wonderful balance to the resulting richness of the beer.

BC: What's a good food pairing for this beer?
Blue cheese, braised meats, dark chocolate